Flowers in Our Attic: The V.C. Andrews Challenge

Taren, 23, and Steph, 15, are two book reviewers from Pulaski, Tennessee and Brazil, respectively. Taren's blog is The Chick Manifesto, and Steph is also known as Reviewer X. So what has brought these two together lately? V.C. Andrews. You know who we mean--the author of those books you used to hide under your mattress in 6th grade because you weren’t quite sure what you were reading was legal? (Or was that just me?). Anyway, they’ve challenged their blog readers to read 11 V.C. Andrews books this year (cool points for finding vintage copies with die-cut covers, which are a personal favorite of mine). We had to find out the who, what, where, when and why of this amazing venture, so Taren and Steph graciously agreed to talk:

What inspired the V.C. Andrews "Read the Good Trash" Movement? STEPH: Taren sent me, hand to god, 22 V.C. Andrews books when I was in the US during the holidays. She’d been bugging me to read VCA for freaking ever until I finally read Flowers in the Attic sometime last year, and loved it. So anyway, there I am hauling the biggest supply of VCA known to cross continents, when I decide I want to get the blogosphere in on this, too. It wasn’t until Taren posted a primer on her blog that I had the idea for a theme year on both our blogs accompanied by a challenge.

What has the response of the blogosphere been? TAREN: We’ve been hearing from a great mix of people--a lot of really young people who'd never even heard of V.C. Andrews before and a lot of people who are a little older, especially authors, who had read a couple of the books before. So it's been a fun mix of people reading them for the first time and people re-reading them, comparing them to their original opinion.

What's your favorite VC book, so far? STEPH: Flowers in the Attic, the only one I’ve completed... so far. But the Casteel series sounds like a winner.

TAREN: I can't pick just one! There's Flowers in the Attic (of course) and the prequel from that series, Garden of Shadows. The Casteel series is my favorite as a whole, with Dark Angel and Web of Dreams (the prequel) being especially high up there.

Why do you think the V.C. Andrews books continue to speak to young adults? STEPH: I think VCA books tempt that morbid curiosity in all of us. (“The family what? He’s her what? They did what?”) I’ve heard more than one person get disgusted and all, to which we say, “Pfft, guys, wait until you start becoming advocates for the incestuous couples.” ;)

TAREN: I think it's a combination of things. When I was younger I loved reading about rich people and their big houses and shopping sprees and clothes. Now that I'm older I realize I also subconsciously related to a lot of the feelings and changes the heroines went through. VCA heroines go through a lot of the same basic problems that everyone does--family, relationship, and money troubles--just totally magnified and turned around (and of course scandalous!). Whatever problems you have, when you're reading a V.C. Andrews books, you can rest assured that their problems are going to be so much worse and so much more dramatic than yours.

Amen to that! Those characters are messed up. But in an amazing I-can’t-look-away way. Want to join the V.C. Andrews Challenge? Go here or here to find out how.